You’ve seen your dream job in construction, but you didn’t go to university. Without a degree, is it still possible to get that job? The short answer is yes, but in this article, we will show you a couple of ways you can get started in construction without a degree. Whether you have industry experience or not, there are various roles and opportunities available within the construction sector.  

Apply for an apprenticeship 

If you have an idea of the role you want to work in, you can apply for a construction apprenticeship. Open to anyone over the age of 16, they are a combination of practical, on the job learning and academic work (written work and sometimes examinations). A couple of the benefits (there are many) of starting an apprenticeship is you can earn money while learning and gain hands-on experience. This means no huge student debts behind you. 

When you are ready, we have advice on how to apply from finding an employer that offers apprenticeships, to available apprenticeships in England, Scotland, and Wales. 

Gain work experience in construction 

Work experience is free to do and involves shadowing someone in a construction role that interests you to learn more about it first-hand. A great benefit to this is the opportunity to make contacts in the industry, which may help you further down your career path. You’ll also know if the role is right for you because you will see typical days play out. Work experience also gets you skills you can add to your CV. It’s just one of the many options for getting into construction without a degree. 

On-the-job training and a part-time college course 

College courses are available for construction roles, with varying lengths and types of qualifications available. As well as Study NVQs and City and Guilds you can also obtain BTECs, A Levels or GCSEs depending on the job you are looking for. Some allow you to study from home or online and most courses are free, but you may want to get more hands-on experience.  

For that, you can look into on-the-job training, which is exactly as it sounds. You work and earn money while studying for a qualification. This might mean you have to be supervised or get sign off on your work until you are fully qualified, but it does give you real life experience in the role which some people find helps them study. 

Apply for an entry-level construction career 

Some jobs within the construction industry allow you to start with no experience at all. You learn as you go, starting with simple labourer tasks and moving on as you progress. Below are some of the jobs that let you do this. 

For many of these roles, work experience on a construction site is the fastest way to start training. Be aware that you may need a  Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.  

Bricklayer 

Bricklayers work across many projects, from huge commercial building construction sites to domestic houses and decorative projects. You can start out with no experience as a construction site labourer, then take on training as you go. You can also find an apprenticeship or college course if you prefer. Find out everything from salary expectations to typical hours for a bricklayer here

Crane operator 

This role doesn’t have any formal qualifications, but does involve driving heavy machinery, so experience as a site labourer will always be helpful. You can use work experience too, which could help you pick up other skills that could be handy for a different role if you wanted variation. Some skills you need for an entry-level crane operator role are good spatial awareness and an understanding of how to use and maintain machines and tools. Learn more about becoming a crane operator. 

Demolition operative 

Becoming a demolition operative requires no official qualification, however work experience, previous work on construction sites and any previous experience of public health and safety are all beneficial. To train as a demolition operative you must be over 18, as you will be working with hazardous materials and heavy machinery. Find out more here

Forklift driver 

There are a few ways to get an entry-level job as a forklift driver, including work experience on a construction site. Forklift drivers move heavy materials around construction sites and must comply with health and safety regulations. An apprenticeship with a building supplier, warehousing or manufacturing company is a good way to get experience of forklift driving. 

General construction operative 

Construction operatives are involved in a lot of different tasks on a construction site, including carrying out manual work whilst a project is in progress. This makes it a great entry-level role as all tasks can be built upon for other roles further down your career path. An employer may offer training in a particular area of construction, too. Find out how to apply for construction operative roles. 

Maintenance operative 

Maintenance operatives keep construction sites in good working order, carrying out repairs and fitting items like doors or skirting boards. A Level 2 apprenticeship in Maintenance Operations with a construction company is a good way into the industry, or you could complete an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in a trade like plumbing or carpentry. Work experience in DIY is also a great way to make contacts and pick up the skills for this role. Find out more about maintenance operative roles

Painter and decorator 

Painters and decorators can work on a wide variety of construction projects. The skills required can be taught on the job, during work experience or you can complete an apprenticeship. If you are between 16 and 24, you may be eligible for a traineeship, a short course (2 weeks - 6 months) which helps you gain work experience in your chosen role. To see more information, including salary expectations, click here

Get in touch 

Construction is a career like no other. Take a look at the stories from real people in the industry to see what’s possible or get in touch with us for more information.